Being Sir or being #1 Murray seeks his place among elite


Off the court, Sir Andy Murray already stands above the other members of the Big Four.

However much their respective fanbases may wish it to be so, Federer will never be Sir Roger, Nadal will never be introduced as Sir Rafa and Djokovic will never go by the title of Sir Novak.

And now, over the coming months, there's the opportunity for Murray, this new racket-swinging knight of the realm, to also elevate himself above that trio where it really matters, on the court.

Win the Australian Open for the first time this month and then score a maiden title at Roland Garros and by the spring Murray will have a more complete career than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

Victories in Melbourne and Paris would make him only the second man in history, after his boyhood idol Andre Agassi, to accomplish 'The Andre Slam' by winning all four majors, an Olympic gold, the Davis Cup and the season-ending ATP Finals.

To think they used to call the quartet the Big Three and a Half.

Twice a Wimbledon champion, once a US Open champion, a gold medallist at the past two Olympics, as well as a winner of the Davis Cup and the season-ending championships, and having also ticked off the No. 1 ranking, Murray only has two significant gaps left in his portfolio of trophies and accolades.

And there must be a decent chance that he can fill one of those holes at Melbourne Park, a tournament where he has finished as runner-up on five previous occasions, and where he will have the additional motivation of playing his first major as the alpha male of tennis.

Roland Garros must also be in play this season -- with every year, he becomes more of a force on clay, and last season he reached his first final in Paris.

So what's Federer missing? For all his other glory and greatness, the Swiss has never won an Olympic gold medal for singles, with his closest run coming at the 2012 London Games where he lost to Murray in the final (he won a doubles gold alongside Stan Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Games, but he needs one in solo competition for it to count towards 'The Andre Slam').

And you have to imagine that Federer won't be in contention for the top of the podium in Tokyo in 2020, given that the tournament will be played around the time of his 39th birthday (for all the joy and excitement that the Swiss still gets from hitting tennis balls, who can be sure whether he will still be competing at the end of another Olympic cycle?).

Like Federer, Djokovic has a gold-medal-shaped hole in his collection. The expectation is that the Serbian will still be around for Tokyo, though he will probably encounter plenty of opposition in Japan from Murray and others.

The only significant title missing from Nadal's portfolio is the season-ending championships. Though he has twice reached the final of the ATP Finals, the last of those appearances came in 2013, and an indoor hard-court event in mid-November is never going to suit Nadal as much as it does some of his rivals.

With three Grand Slam titles, Murray is a long way behind Federer's 17 majors, Nadal's 14 or Djokovic's 12, and there's a fair chance he will never make it into double figures.

But by taking that tally to five, in Melbourne and Paris, Murray could potentially achieve something very special indeed. And you can be sure that he would care more deeply about that than any upgrade from plain Mister to Sir!

Written by Tim Strawn

Executive Director, IART

Leave a Reply